Whether you are looking to ‘go green,’ or just save a little money on your energy bill, comparing the different methods of home heating is a great place to start. However, you should know that there are many variables that go into making the choice that is right for you. We’ll break down some of the factors to consider when you are comparing different modes to heat your home, as well as a home heating cost comparison.
Fuel: The Type And Cost of Using
Fuel, or what powers your heater, is the place to start. Depending on if you are getting a furnace that runs on natural gas, oil, propane, electric, geothermal, etc., a lot can change in the price. Because so many furnaces depend on the fuel supplied by a company (gas, electric), the cost can change from month to month, according to Keith Hill, the technical support manager at Minnesota Air. Keith says that is especially true with the price of “delivered fuels” like propane and fuel oil – because it all depends on the company supplying it and the way the market is going at the time.
There are also the ‘greener’ methods of heating a home, such as geothermal and solar, where the fuel is gathered by using a basically limitless supply of energy from the earth and sun. However, those come with the staggering upfront costs associated with buying the equipment and getting it installed.
The ‘Value’ Of The Heat
Next in comparing fuel prices, you need to consider the fuel heating values, says Keith. “We buy natural gas by the ‘therm’ or ‘MCF,’ propane and fuel oil by the gallon, and electricity by the kilowatt-hour (KWH). Each have different heating values and require some math to compare,” says Keith.
To help you compare fuel costs, Keith suggests checking out this online cost calculator found on buildinggreen.com. It lets you compare the cost of different fuels by picking the fuel, entering a local price, and picking the efficiency and model of the system you want to use.
Efficiency Of The Appliance
Finally, we speak of efficiency, which is perhaps one of the most important factors to look at when comparing heating costs. It plays a big role in fuel consumption, says Keith. “For example, a 95% (efficient) furnace compared to an 80% (efficient one) will use 15% less fuel,” he says.
“For air source heat pumps,” he notes, “this can be tricky to calculate, as a heat pump efficiency varies with outdoor temperature.” Heat pumps can be very efficient in heating a home, but in climates where winters get very cold, you also need a furnace. Southern climates may only need a heat pump to do the trick.
You can learn more about how to make sure your home is built with efficient heating and cooling by checking out this article we wrote previously on the Stay Comfy Minnesota blog.